Teacher’s salaries: a faceless problem

Teacher pay cuts were announced recently in Kentucky. Many programs suffered losses, and many others were completely cut. This is unnaceptable. We need to invest, now more than ever, in education.

Teacher’s salaries have been stagnant for years, and now teacher unions have started to protest all over the country. These protests have good intentions, and I fully support them. Teachers need better wages, and it’s unreal that the people in charge of educating our kids in their formative – and arguably most important – years are not compensated fairly for the job they do. 

But despite their intentions, the outcome of this combination of subpar wages and protest activism is thousands of combined hours where students are supposed to be learning. According to Oklahoma’s website, more than 694,000 students were enrolled in the last academic year. If we assume that more than half of their teachers were out there protesting, more than 300,000 students did not have class for nine days.

The problem is compounded because of a lack of school supplies. We’re suffering of a lack of supplies here in Tennessee, where teachers have to spend an average of $120 on paper and other supplies to properly do class exercises. So now we not only have short wages, but they’re being made smaller by teachers having to buy their own paper and pencils. In a world where we’re trying to be ahead in everything, education comes first.

The victims in all of this, besides teachers, are the students. Our education system, for all of its benefits, is riddled with flaws. School budgets have to increase if we want to improve, and while money won’t make our educators perfect and our students excel, it certainly will increase the odds. The clock keeps ticking and change needs to happen fast.

We’ve seen a new wave of poster-riddled activism around the country. The Women’s March, March for Our Lives, now the teacher’s strikes. All of this activism needs to get people to the ballot table or it will all be in vain.

I don’t care what you support. If you want gun control, or higher wages, or better healthcare, or whatever. If you don’t go out and vote, nothing will change. And regardless of the amount of strikes you organize, or how many posters you make, you’ll be back in square one.

Midterms are coming, and this generation is notorious for not turning out to vote. Let’s change that. In 50 years, 2018 could be the year many elected officials entered politics to change the U.S. forever. Or it could be another year that nothing changed, for better, or for worse.